British TV to air Ahmadinejad, not Queen’s Christmas speech

December 25th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 25 (DPA) Britain’s Channel 4 television plans to air a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday as an alternative to the traditional Christmas Day speech by Queen Elizabeth II.Ahmadinejad calls for peace and greater spirituality in the speech, Britain’s Press Association (PA) reported Thursday.

The plan has prompted anger from Jewish and gay representatives as Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of Israel in the past and said there were no homosexuals in Iran, where gays face the death penalty.

The Israeli embassy in London branded Ahmadinejad’s Christmas message a “sick and twisted irony”.

“In Iran, converts to Christianity face the death penalty. It is perverse that this despot is allowed to speculate on the views of Jesus, while his government leads Christ’s followers to the gallows,” PA quoted Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor as saying.

Prosor branded the decision to air the speech a “scandal and a national embarrassment”.

In “its search for ratings and shock factor, Channel 4 has lost its ethical way,” he said.

Leading gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said Channel 4 should “pull the plug on this criminal despot, who ranks with (Zimbabwean President) Robert Mugabe, (President) Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the Burmese military junta as one of the world’s most bloody tyrants,” PA reported.

Meanwhile, the queen in her speech was expected to acknowledge the financial crisis, saying that Britons faced “insecurity” and that Christmas would be a “sombre occasion”.

Channel 4 broadcast its first alternative queen’s speech in 1993.

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